Alberta Health Services
Measles is a virus that spreads easily through the air when someone who has measles coughs or sneezes. Measles is sometimes called rubeola or red measles.
It can cause:
Measles can be dangerous because:
Learn more about measles.
If you have not had measles in the past or if you have not been fully immunized against it, you are at risk of getting measles.
Measles tends to be more severe in babies and adults.
If you were born before 1970, there is a good chance you are immune to measles, as you were likely exposed to measles when it circulated widely before 1970.
Measles is an extremely contagious disease, spread easily through the air.
You do not need to be in direct contact with someone who is infected. You can get measles just by passing through a room or location where a person who is infected was up to 2 hours before. The person who is infected does not still need to be there to put you at risk of disease.
Measles can also be spread through coughing and sneezing.
If you have measles, you can spread the disease starting 1 day before showing any symptoms, which is usually about 3 to 7 days before the rash appears. You can spread the disease until 4 days after the appearance of the rash.
Symptoms of measles are a fever 38.3°C or higher and cough, runny nose, or red eyes, and red, blotchy rash appearing 3 to 7 days after fever starts. The rash starts behind the ears and on the face and spreads down to the body and then to the arms and legs.
If you or your child is showing symptoms of measles, stay at home, avoid contact with others, and call Health Link at 811 before visiting any hospital, clinic, or healthcare provider.
The MMR-Var vaccine is given as part of Alberta’s routine immunization schedule for children. It protects against measles, mumps, rubella, and chickenpox (varicella).
The MMR vaccine is another vaccine that protects against measles.
If you are immune to measles, you will pass measles antibodies to your unborn child. This will give your baby some protection against measles, but this protection will disappear over time. Your baby will need their own measles vaccines to be protected.
If you aren’t sure about your immunization history, check with your healthcare provider to make sure you’re protected against measles. You cannot get the measles vaccine while pregnant.
If you think you or your child has been exposed to measles, and you are not fully immunized (with 2 doses of measles vaccine), call Health Link at 811 before visiting any healthcare provider, clinic, or hospital. The registered nurse who answers your call will guide you on the next steps.
If you have contact with the measles virus, are not immunized, and are at risk for serious illness, you may get immune globulin. Immune globulin can help prevent measles or prevent you from getting seriously sick if you do get measles.
Immune globulins give quick, short-term protection. For long-term protection, you need a vaccine.
Learn more about immune globulin.